NFL 2017 Week 10 Predictions – Zoltar Goes Crazy

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Zoltar is my NFL football machine learning prediction system. It’s a hybrid system that uses a custom “reinforcement learning” algorithm plus a neural network. Here are Zoltar’s predictions for week #10 of the 2017 NFL season:

Zoltar:    seahawks  by    0  dog =   cardinals    Vegas:    seahawks  by  5.5
Zoltar:    steelers  by    4  dog =       colts    Vegas:    steelers  by   10
Zoltar:       lions  by   16  dog =      browns    Vegas:       lions  by   10
Zoltar:      saints  by    0  dog =       bills    Vegas:      saints  by  2.5
Zoltar:      titans  by    6  dog =     bengals    Vegas:      titans  by    5
Zoltar:     vikings  by    0  dog =    redskins    Vegas:     vikings  by  1.5
Zoltar:     jaguars  by    4  dog =    chargers    Vegas:     jaguars  by    4
Zoltar:     packers  by    2  dog =       bears    Vegas:       bears  by    3
Zoltar:  buccaneers  by    4  dog =        jets    Vegas:        jets  by  1.5
Zoltar:        rams  by    5  dog =      texans    Vegas:        rams  by   12
Zoltar:      giants  by    5  dog = fortyniners    Vegas:      giants  by    1
Zoltar:     cowboys  by    0  dog =     falcons    Vegas:     falcons  by    3
Zoltar:    patriots  by    5  dog =     broncos    Vegas:    patriots  by  7.5
Zoltar:    panthers  by    2  dog =    dolphins    Vegas:    panthers  by    9

Zoltar theoretically suggests betting when the Vegas line is more than 3.0 points different from Zoltar’s prediction. Typically, Zoltar has three or four hypothetical pieces of recommendation, but for week #10, Zoltar has eight pieces of advice — probably due to the very large number of injuries in mid-season.

1. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Cardinals against the Seahawks. Vegas has the Seahawks as 5.5 point favorites but Zoltar thinks the game is evenly matched. Therefore, a bet on the Cardinals will pay off if the Cardinals win by any score, or if the Seahawks win but by less than 5.5 points (in other words, 5 points or less).

2. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Colts against the Steelers.

3. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Lions against the Browns.

4. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Packers against the Bears.

5. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Buccaneers against the Jets.

6. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Texans against the Rams.

7. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Giants over the 49ers.

8. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Dolphins against the Panthers.

There are significant injuries in five of these eight games. I have an advanced version of Zoltar that takes injuries into account, and Advanced Zoltar has only four suggestions.


Zoltar had a mediocre showing last week. Against the Vegas spread, which is what Zoltar is designed to predict, Zoltar went only 1-1 (one game, the Dolphins vs. Raiders was a push when the Vegas spread of 3.0 points exactly matched the actual 27-24 score).

For the 2017 season so far, against the Vegas point spread, Zoltar is a pretty good 24-11 (68% accuracy). If you must bet $110 to win $100 (typical in Vegas) then you must theoretically predict with 53% or better accuracy to make money, but realistically you must predict at 60% or better accuracy.

Just for fun, I also track how well Zoltar does when only predicting which team will win. This isn’t really useful except for parlay betting. For week #9, Zoltar was a poor 8-5 just predicting winners.

For comparison purposes, I also track how well Bing and the Vegas line do when just predicting who will win. In week #9, Bing was a good 10-3, and Vegas was also good at 9-3 (again, one push) when just predicting winners.

For the 2017 season so far, just predicting the winning team, Zoltar is 83-49 (63% accuracy), Bing is also 83-49 (63% accuracy), and Vegas is 79-49 (62% accuracy). The best humans are typically about 67% accurate predicting winners.

Zoltar fortune telling machine


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